FANTASY PLAYS: Gordon comeback worth expectations of a windfall? Who knows, but worth a shot



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Josh Gordon, Josh Gordon, Josh Gordon.

You mean there are other things to discuss in fantasy football this week? Not when this Cleveland playmaker is stepping on the field the first time this year.

The star wide receiver is back and thinks he can put up big stats right away after sitting out 10 games for repeated violations of the league's drug policy.

"I definitely think I can," he said. "In regards to the coaching and how they want to implement me into the game plan, that's up to them. I want them to do what they see fit and just use me as an asset wherever is the easiest for them to do."

Gordon practiced with the Browns for the first time this season on Wednesday, with little to be gleaned from the few minutes he worked out in front of reporters, though he did drop two passes.

Coach Mike Pettine said he plans to ease Gordon back into the game plan this week, but Gordon says he's ready after working out on his own during his time away from the team.

"Knowing that I could come back, I just wanted to make sure I was in the best shape of my life and try to come out without missing a beat and pick up right where I left off from last season," he said. "And hopefully, keep it going."

His fantasy owners are ready (that may be an understatement — fantasy tweeters have been buzzing about him for weeks and check out the fantasy football section of Reddit this week: http://bit.ly/1xqX0Om).

Gordon has been stashed on rosters in most leagues over the last 11 weeks after being an average 10th-round draft pick in Yahoo leagues. Yet he is a free agent in 16 percent of leagues, with more than 59,000 people picking him up on Wednesday on the site.

If he's available, pick him up — it's a no-brainer no matter your league size. But if you didn't, it's not all that bad — there are plenty of things to consider if you're worried you somehow made a mistake by not having Gordon on your team right now.

And he's got five weeks to answer those questions in most fantasy leagues — assuming you make the playoffs.


THE STATS

Many fantasy football players can recite Gordon's top-line numbers last year by heart: 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns in 14 games.

In standard fantasy leagues, it was an average of 16.2 fantasy points per game, the best in football by 2 points per game. He also edged Demaryius Thomas by less than 1 point for the overall lead in total fantasy points scored — despite playing two fewer games.

The secret to those stats, beyond undeniable talent, was targets. During the games he played, Gordon consistently got a significant number of opportunities. He got at least 10 targets in nine games, including 19 balls thrown to him in his first game of 2013 against Minnesota. The result? 146 yards and a touchdown, good for 20 fantasy points.

Gordon said Wednesday that part of his adjustment this year will be getting used to a new offense.

Quarterback Brian Hoyer, who threw a season-high 50 passes last week against Houston, said defenses will have to decide whether they want to focus their effort on Gordon.

"You don't really try to force it to him. Now, in the same sense, I'm going to know where he's at," Hoyer said. "There's no doubt about that, but you have to see what the defense is doing."


THE STASH

Gordon's comeback has been affectionately dubbed online as an early holiday present to fantasy owners. But to get him, many had to draft him in the middle rounds or pass on picking some early waiver talents. Worth it? Maybe, but it depends on who they missed.

Patriots wide receiver Brandon LaFell was drafted slightly later than Gordon on average in Yahoo leagues, and sits tied with Roddy White as the 22nd-best receiver in fantasy under standard scoring. Cincinnati's Mohamed Sanu and Philadelphia's Jordan Matthews went later.


THE ASSUMPTIONS

Fantasy experts compiled by Fantasypros.com vary widely on Gordon the rest of this season, ranking him the 19th-best receiver under standard scoring. Jon Collins of Fantasy Sports Locker Room has him as the ninth-best receiver, while Scott Engel of RotoExperts has him 31st.

And of the top-10 receivers in fantasy this season, only five were drafted within the top 20 at the position in Yahoo leagues.


Oskar Garcia can be reached on Twitter at http://twitter.com/oskargarcia

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